Information Regarding Process Strategies
February 5, 2018
Some of the friends and supporters of the Highland Companies might have read an article in the Sunday Gazette-Mail that painted our Process Strategies medical practice in an unflattering light. I’d like to provide you with accurate information and to assure our community that the needs of the former patients of Process Strategies are being met and that the needs of patients who require care at Highland Hospital and Highland Health Center will continue to be met.
Process Strategies is an outpatient medical practice. Currently, we employ seven therapists and one nurse practitioner who specializes in psychiatric care. The services provided by this team of providers are exemplary. We are not concerned about the quality of treatment our patients receive and rightly deserve. As recently as several years ago, we were averaging about 2,500-3,000 visits per month at this site. In December, and during many other previous months over the last year, our visits were as low as 700 in the month. Why has this occurred?
The bulk of patients seen by Process Strategies staff are receiving therapy care. As the federal government has required other providers such as Federally Qualified Health Centers to integrate physical and mental health services, therapy services have begun to be offered by those centers across the state. This is a wonderful addition to their services in communities that are traditionally underserved. Who wouldn’t want to get their physical health and mental health care at the same site? This has been a benefit to patients, but to a practice like Process Strategies, it means fewer patients seeking our most-used service. This low number of visits makes it much more difficult to support the practice, with all of the expensive requirements for providers, office space, billing, coding, electronic medical records and support personnel.
Additionally, over the last few years, we have lost three psychiatrists. It is no secret that it is difficult to recruit psychiatrists to West Virginia. Psychiatrists in this country are aging, and fewer new physicians are choosing outpatient psychiatry. One of our psychiatrists decided to move to a warmer climate as he made a transition to retirement. Another chose to move to another practice. Still another decided to move back “home” to the East Coast. Some physician assistants took jobs at our other programs. This has left us with fewer providers for medical care, again leading to difficulty in supporting the practice.
I want to assure our community that we have not just abandoned our clients. From the very start of our transition, we notified clients of our discontinuation of services. Yes, we sent letters to 1,700 patients. However, this was every patient seen at Process Strategies in the last six months. This number includes even patients who were seen only once, or who perhaps had completed their care. We assured our clients that over the six-week period of transition, we would see each client who wanted to be seen and we would assure that, if they were receiving medication, we would provide them with medication to get them through to the point when they had re-established care elsewhere. We reached out to our colleagues, including Prestera, our local community mental health center, and other local providers to notify them that clients might be reaching out to them. Our Community Engagement Specialists have been working with our clients to help them with the transition. We notified Medicaid and the state, as well as the managed care companies who cover Medicaid members, of our decision. These companies have case managers who are working with their managers to assure placement.
It is important to note that we’ve also worked to help our providers find alternative employment. We held an internal job fair, offering opportunities for our staff at our other companies. Several have accepted positions with our other companies, and they will be welcome additions to our staff. We also held an external job fair, and invited other primary care and mental health providers who had a need for staff to meet with our staff onsite at Process Strategies. Several of our staff members have accepted positions with those practices. So, our providers might not be practicing at Process Strategies, but they will be staying in the community. I predict that the practices that they will be joining will be making public announcements of their employment soon, so perhaps some patients may follow their providers to other locations.
Some services at Process Strategies will continue to serve our community. Advance Pharmacy will continue to provide medication dispensing in the current location. This pharmacy expertly serves the needs of the community, as well as patients who are discharged from Highland Hospital and Highland Health Center. We will continue to offer our highly used Employee Assistance Programs. And, our Community Engagement Specialist program will continue to work with its network of Community Engagement Specialists across the state to help patients with mental health issues avoid emergency room visits and hospitalization.
Finally, I want our community to know that this was not an easy decision. Our Highland Companies have over 60 years of providing –high-quality behavioral health services to our community. Given that there are other providers who offer the same services as Process Strategies does, we made the decision to focus on the services that are provided uniquely by our other companies—Highland Hospital and Highland Health Center. As the only mental health hospital in the community, we assure you that our staff at Highland Hospital will not only continue to provide the high-quality services that we now provide, but we will turn our attention to expanding our services to the community, including residential opiate treatment services so desperately needed in our state. As the only crisis stabilization unit in Kanawha County, Highland Health Center will continue to provide services to patients in crisis due to addiction.
So, now you have the full story. Thank you for your continued support of us as we move through this transition and focus on expansion of our services to meet the needs of our community and state.
NOTE: If you are a client of Process Strategies and require a transfer of records to another provider, this is just a reminder to please contact us at 304-926-1600 and ask to be connected to the Medical Records Department. They will promptly transfer your records at your request.